What was once a matter of time now appears to be merely a matter of formalities and medical tests, as Atlanta United midfielder Migurl Almiron is set to join Newcastle United after the two clubs agreed a transfer fee (finally) on Tuesday, according to a report from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Newcastle had been long rumored as the European and Premier League side most keen on signing the 24-year-old Paraguayan in recent months and weeks, yet there appeared to be very little movement due to ongoing uncertainty regarding the Magpies’ finances.
The report did not mention a dollar figure, but Atlanta United president Darren Eales said right after the Five Stripes’ 2018 MLS Cup triumph that it would take a bid of at least $30 million, a sum that would dwarf the current MLS record for an outgoing player. That number was received last year when Bayern Munich signed Alphonso Davies for (up to) $22 million. Almiron is reportedly en route to the northeast of England to complete the necessary medical examinations before signing on the dotted line.
Eales and Co., aren’t exactly operating from the strongest position of power, though, as they announced last week the arrival of Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez as the club’s fourth Designated Player. MLS rules limit teams to three DPs, meaning one would have to come off the books before the start of the season. Almiron was always the obvious answer to that particular problem, but Newcastle will have surely known this and used that knowledge to their advantage during negotiations.
On one hand, Newcastle feels like the perfect place for Almiron to take the next step in his career without skipping too many in between and setting himself up to fail. On the other hand, Newcastle could very well be relegated to the Championship in five months’ time and Almiron will be looking for a new club once again. Back on that first hand again, he’s precisely the kind of creative playmaker so desperately coveted by a side with only 19 goals scored through 23 games.
Either way, it’s a massive win for all parties involved — Atlanta, more so and smarter than just about any other team in MLS, will reinvest that money back into the first-team squad; the perception of MLS improves every time a young player exits the league better than they were when they arrived; Newcastle owner Mike Ashley can now say he backed manager Rafa Benitez in the transfer market; and Almiron can begin the European chapter of his career with nearly a decade of high-level soccer still left in him.